A victory is a victory is a victory… however, I’m not subscribing to that game being something to be impressed by. We were poor on many levels tonight despite having an adequate team out. Wenger was talking about his injury problems in the press conference last night like we had a Carling cup team out… but Almunia was no loss, Denilson was no loss… and if we’re being honest, nor was Sagna.
Diaby was described as the new Paddy by Wenger a few weeks ago, we had Cesc, Rosicky, Bendtner, Eduardo and Song making up the rest of the midfield and attack… Eboue is more than able as a deputy and I reckon my Nan could have done a reasonable job in goal for Almunia. So Wenger’s crowing about squad depth is totally misguided in my opinion, because the only shock inclusion was Mannone.
The game was full of mistakes, bad passing, a lack of rhythm and cohesion… it was a poor showing. Yes, I’m pleased we won… but I’ve been here before… being told to take pleasure in hollow victories in the hope that we have this consistent 5th gear we’ll get into… that doesn’t really happen these days. Last night we lacked quality from our best players, and that is an all too familiar problem.
The first warning sign was when Clichy failed to deal with his man, the Liege player nipped in, crossed across the box… Song shanked it out of play. I love Clichy, but he’s been inconsistent for some time now… is it time to toe him up the ass and give the more than capable Gibbs a crack?
Shortly after, a corner was cleared, the ball looped out the box… Eduardo was under it, he flicked it back across goal to no one… Standard took advantage of our keepers lack of ability and slotted home at his near post. A weak goal if ever I did see one… fancy tricks on the 18 yard box are as appreciated as much as a bout of mouth herpes… near post goals are about as common place with our reserve keepers as swine flu in the work place… remember Chelsea in the semi? Why can’t a reserve keeper just come in and do the basics right?
Barely two minutes later, Gallas dropped the Liege striker with Eduardo like deftness in the box… Karma was restored, the ref pointed to the spot. 2 down after 5 minutes. Shocking.
The tone of the game was summed up when Cesc passed the ball out for a throw in after the centre kick… this was going to be a drag.
The first half was reminiscent of last season… I felt personally embarrassed that I’d ignorantly backed a squad with one addition. Where was the urgency, where was the fight… why did the players look nonchalant? I’ll tell you why… because it was the same bunch of players who underachieved last year. Sadly Lucozade doesn’t come with character supplements.
This was standard Liege we were playing, not Barcelona. We lack leaders on the pitch. Cesc leads by example… where are players who lead through inspiration?
We plodded through the rest of the half creating very little until late in the second half… Diaby powered through midfield and played Nik in with a defence splitting ball… he finished superbly with a nut meg that found its way into the back of the net. Is that what happens when you put a centre forward in the middle? Crazy thought, I know.
The second half started with more ridiculousness. Alex Song made a dreadful back pass… played Standard in, who finished poorly. This are the types of error that cost us against proper teams.
Nik was played in with a beauty of a ball from Rosicky… and was denied by a superb tackle. Arsenal were starting to play, the belief started to ebb back into the team.
Songs range of passing was back to it’s 2008 best… flying passes to the crazy people talking in his head.
Gael Clichy continued to play poorly, if anyone needs a chest infection it’s that man. I thought Fabregas looked sullen and disinterested, I quite often feel he goes missing when things aren’t going our way… mind you, you’re only as inspired as those around you… if I was a world class chef and I was working in McDonalds, I wouldn’t be flipping burgers with much verve or passion.
Eboue fell over. I watch football with my Sunday league team mates… watching Eboue is like watching your Granddad cracking on with a bar maid at a family party… a bit embarrassing, especially when your mates are watching.
Set pieces were rubbish all night… after all the early season promise, it seems that the goals we scored against Everton were more luck than judgement. Cesc’s deliveries seem to be consistently poor…
Rambo came on for Rosicky and his first contribution was a 25 belter at the keeper. Say what you will about his discipline, the guy offers more of a threat than most of Wenger’s favourites and he does have heart in bundles.
The goal ironically came from a bad cross, it was played into the back post… it bumbled around, and Vermaelen added to his tally. The goal was littered with controversy… Song looked to have hand balled it, he may have been offside… but honestly, in the grand scheme of giving a shit, my sympathies were low. We were back on track… Sagna and Wilshere entered the field of play.
Shortly after Eduardo went high and wide… then Vermaelen had a shot cleared off the line. You sensed a goal was in the offing… and it was…
Eduardo kneed the ball in from a low corner… superb. Thank the footballing Gods that the Belgian team were weak.
Rambo set Nik up late, but he placed the ball too far in front for the Dane for him to finish.
The ref blew up and we had delivered a victory which signalled how strong we are mentally, how young our average age is… and Wenger clearly demonstrated the strength in depth we have as a club this year.
Sarcasm isn’t clever and it isn’t funny… sadly though, it’s so true it hurts. Wenger pretty much delivered the above predictable verdict in his press conference. 99 people can see the problems with this squad, the other one is Wenger.
Personal mistakes luckily didn’t cost us today, but that’s because we played a very poor team. However, you’ve already seen what happens when these mistakes happen against better opposition. I think it’s terrible that these mistakes are even happening against outfits like Standard, I really do.
Having a superb starting 11 sadly doesn’t win you any awards at the end of the season. I feel Arsene has sold us down the river of fan delusion again and it’s not lies because he believes what he says.
Very disappointed despite a win… because we’ve been here so many times over the last 4 seasons… winning and playing badly isn’t the sign of a good team, because we don’t have it in us to go on a 15 game winning streak to nullify the bad games.
Mannone: Erratic, nervous and at fault for the first goal. His kicking leaves a lot to be desired as does his decision making. 5
Clichy: Mistakes are creeping into his game on a more frequent basis and it is a worrying decline. He needs to pull his socks up especially with a World cup looming. I think a couple of games on the bench would do him some good as I know he has it in him to be a great player for us. 5
Gallas: Dropped the Standard player on the edge of the box and I felt for him a bit. Not his best game in an Arsenal shirt but he coped better in the second half. 6
Vermaelen: One of the few bright sparks in a dire team performance. I like his never say die attitude and I love the way 90% of the time he comes out of the air as a winner with the ball. He did well to scramble home the second goal and he was unlucky not to get another shortly after. 7
Eboue: Slotted in a right back and to be honest, I couldn’t tell the difference between him and Sagna… which is more a sign of how Sag’s has declined over the last year. 6.5
Cesc: Quiet, sloppy… a touch miserable perhaps. He’s not coping well playing in our team at the moment and that is a big worry. I’m sure he was looking for big signings this summer and Wenger failed to deliver again. The coach talks about what he sees in training when he justifies his frugal policies… does he read the papers and the body language of his star names when he doesn’t sign players and think his policies are correct? I do wonder… 5
Diaby: Someone need to get this man’s coat and hail him a taxi. A truly diabolical performance by the lanky Frenchman… not even redeemed with an assist. His reactions are slow, his passing and control are shambolic at times and his mistakes are so amateur it brings a small tear to my eye or more than a few occasions. Stick Rambo in there… or Merida… get JET back off loan… anything please… 4
Song: I struggled to make up my mind about Song tonight. He made some important tackles and got in the way a few times, but his passing was terrible and he made some school boy mistakes. It really isn’t good enough for me… he needs to find consistency and he needs to do it quickly. What I did find interesting was talking to a Liverpool fan who was telling me how they all dread the inclusion of Mascharano in the starting 11 at Liverpool… everyone seems to be having a problem filling this DM role bar Chelsea. 6
Rosicky: It’s nice to have our dynamic china Czech back in the team. His class is apparent in whatever he does… he rarely wastes a ball and he has a lot of tenacity and aggression in his game. I would truly love it in a Kevin Keegan way if he managed to stay fit this year. 7
Bendtner: Finally played centrally… finally delivered an ok performance. He slotted between the keepers legs before half time with pretty much his first chance and he showed great strength an perseverance on other occasions. Is this the watershed moment for our Dane? Well… that depends on whether he is stuck out wide in the next game. 6.25
Eduardo: Much like he was when he first started for us… he’ll do nothing for 90minutes, then he’ll pop up for a goal. Not the worst attribute, but needs to do more for the team. Nice for him to get on the score sheet though. 6.25
Have a great day Grovers, see you and your pretty avatars in the comments!
P.S. I was only kidding about the Isle of Wight yesterday… you’re all beautiful people and you’re island fantastic! There are still Wigan tickets available in my Exchange… so message me if you’d like to go.